Top takeaways from Ravens dominant win over Bengals: Offensive Struggles
The Baltimore Ravens improved their record to 4-1 and won their second straight game since losing their first to the Kansas City Chiefs by using an explosive first quarter from their offense and a phenomenal performance by their defense to dominate the Cincinnati Bengals 27-3 in Week Five.
Here is one of the top takeaways that I observed from the Ravens second blowout over an AFC North opponent by more than 20 points:
Offense still isn’t clicking on all cylinders
As great as it was to watch the Ravens notch another win over another divisional opponent by double digits, the defense led the way to victory after the offense fell flat after the first quarter where they scored 17 of their 20 points.
“Every win is a blessing, and whenever you can get one, you have to take that and run with it,” tight end Mark Andrews said. “But there are times when our offense isn’t clicking, and we need to get better. So, it is what it is.”
Reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson started the game much sharper than he finished completing 8-of-13 passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns in the first 15 minutes of the game before going 11-of-24 for no touchdowns, his second interception of the season, and a few more close calls in the 45 minutes of game time.
The Bengals did a great job of not letting Jackson gash them on the ground as he has in every other game he’s played against them since becoming the starter as a rookie dating back to Week 11 of the 2018 season when he made the first of his career.
While Baltimore’s offensive line only surrendered one sack in this game, they were far from perfect and didn’t provide Jackson with clean pockets to throw from consistently.
However, even when he did have time to throw, he and his several of his targets outside of Andrews and wide receiver Marquise Hollywood Brown were just out of sync for much of the day.
The fact that Jackson only practiced once last week didn’t seem to affect his performance to start the game but after struggling and only leading one scoring drive the rest of the way, it was apparent that it played a factor in his overall performance.
He admitted that’s some of his struggles could be attributed to the missed practice time and vowed to be better and back out on the practice field all this week.
“This week is going to be different because I’m going to be out there (practicing) every day,” said Jackson after the game.
Last season the Ravens finished as the top-scoring offense; however, they didn’t start that way. Through the first five weeks of the 2019 season, Baltimore was sitting at 3-2, trailing the Cleveland Browns in the division race, and weren’t the dominant record-breaking unit on offense just yet.
“I feel the same way,” Jackson said in agreement with Andrews’ assessment of the inconsistency of the offense to start the season. “We need to get back to how we were last year.”
Neither side of the ball is going to peak by Week Five, or at least I hope not because there is still a lot of football left to be played, God willing. It is going to take the offense some time to round into shape and iron out some of the kinks that have held them back and left points on the field thus far this season.
The Ravens just need to execute better, strive for more balance by running the ball more and more effectively, and hope Jackson won’t miss any more practices going forward.
“Football is definitely a practice sport, whether it’s technique, timing, chemistry, just understanding the game-plan inside and out not because you studied it but because you operated it and practiced it. It’s always going to have an effect,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “It’s important for everybody to practice, especially important for the quarterback.”
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman should also try not to force getting their bevy of weapons involved but letting it happen naturally instead. To get Jackson more confident in throwing to pass catchers not named Brown or Andrews consistently, he could script some high percentage passing plays early on to get into a rhythm offensively but after establishing the run and not before.
Nevertheless, I highly urge Ravens fans to exercise a measure of patience with the offense because they are far from a finished product yet are still winning and have plenty of talent at every skill position outside of tight end where they are a little thin but are offsetting the loss of Hayden Hurst somewhat unsuccessfully at the moment with a collaborative effort from other players at different positions.